Building sandcastles at
the beach. Family picnics. Canoeing at the lake. Drive by visits from the Ice
Cream Man. Summer can be a fun time for your vagina. But just as a long day in
the sun can wipe out your kids, leaving them sweaty, exhausted and whining for
a popsicle, it can render your V-spot hot, tired, itchy and parched. So I asked
the experts for their favorite ladybits* tips that will ensure the Missus stays
happy and healthy all summer long.
This grown-up version
of the classic fifth-grade sleepover prank comes from women's physical
therapist and mom of three Jill Hoefs, who says it's especially helpful for
women with summertime pregnancies. "Wet a regular absorbency pad to half its
capacity, put it in a Ziploc, freeze it and then wear it when your vagina feels
swollen or chafed," recommends the author of "Your
Best Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Easing the Aches, Pains, and
Uncomfortable Side Effects During Each Stage of Your Pregnancy." (Editor's note: Do not confuse
it for the frozen chicken breast that's been languishing in your freezer since
January 2014.) Hoef's tip is also smart for
2. Protect your pubes
Deforesting your landing strip could land you in the
ER: According to a 2012 Urology study, ladyscaping-related injuries increased six
times between 2002 and 2010, sending almost 7,000 women to the ER with cuts,
abrasions, rashes, abscesses and hot wax injuries.
If you shave, experts suggest
soaking in a warm tub or shower first to soften the hair, then using a fresh
razor. Unless you're a Kardashian and your sister has a waxing workstation set up in her bathroom, leave the hot stuff to the professionals. Or, do what Jenna McCarthy, a 46-year-old mom of two tweens (and
author of "I've Still Got
It ... I Just Can't Remember Where I Put It: Awkwardly True Tales from the Far
Side of Forty") does: "Just suck it up
and get laser hair removal. Compared to what you'd spend on new
razor blades over a lifetime, it's a justifiable expense, and one of the great
joys of life is never ever having to worry about a stray pube or bikini burn
3. Kill the itch
Candida are like Gremlins, except instead of hiding out in an antique treasure chest, they live in our vaginas.
Candida are like Gremlins, except
instead of hiding out in an antique treasure chest, they live in our vaginas,
waiting for a little moisture to seep in and help them multiply out of control.
And when they do—like after a day of hanging out in a damp bikini or
forgetting to change out of your workout gear—your happy summer day will be wrecked.
Antibiotics will kill the itch, but they
can also wipe out helpful bacteria along with the bad ones. That's where probiotics come
in. "Kefir is a
natural way to keep the microflora healthy and alive throughout your body,
including in your vagina," notes Valerie Early, a registered dietitian from Schaumburg
, Ill., who specializes in medical nutrition therapy. "It's better than the
average dairy product, like yogurt, because the specific strains of acidophilus and lactobaccillus really do help promote those good bacteria." If you end
up needing antibiotics, Early recommends chasing them with kefir to replenish
good bacteria in the lower GI system. "When people have more kefir in their
diets or take probiotic supplements or whole food supplements with probiotics
in them, I do see a reduction in complaints in vaginal itching, yeast
infections and just general immune system issues," she observes.
Hardcore DIY-ers are known to dip a
tampon into kefir and insert it to relieve the itch. If you go this route, make
sure the kefir or yogurt is plain; not only will the sugar in flavored
varieties feed yeast, but you'll have a lot of explaining to do when you show
up to pick Timmy up from camp and your crotch smells like a straw-nanna
4. Give yourself a vacial (a vaginal facial)
You heard me. Your goodies need – and deserve – pampering, just like the delicate
skin on your eyelids and cheeks, says sexuality and
relationship coach Pamela Madsen, founder of Back to The Body:
Sensuous Retreats for Women. Especially in the summer, when skin may be
parched from pool chlorine or irritated from sweaty workout clothes. "Keep a jar of
coconut oil in the bathroom, and after you pee and wipe, put a little oil on
your fingers and massage your inner labia and the area around the opening of
your vagina," Madsen says. "This will keep the skin of your inner labia and the
opening to your vagina soft and subtle." Cuticle softener, teeth whitener,
makeup remover: Is there anything coconut oil can't do?
5. Wear the right undies
Jennipher Walters, co-founder of FitBottomedGirls.com, recommends
investing in some good fitness underwear, or at least making sure your shorts have
a breathable mesh liner built in. "When the temps go up, you sweat more, which
can make your lady parts more susceptible to chafing, yeast
infections and other not-so-fun stuff," Walters says. "That's why it's
important to wear sweat-wicking fabrics that pull moisture away from your
skin." She likes UnderArmour's Pure Stretch Cheeky, which has
anti-microbial technology, or the Anita Air Control Boyshort Panty for more
coverage. On a related note…
6. Go commando overnight
Air is good; moisture is bad.
2009, I wrote a story
for Health magazine called "'Down
There' Secrets You Must Know." One of my star tips, besides, "Your vagina
should not smell like orchids"? Go Commando. As my OB/gyn source put it, "Air
is good; moisture is bad." This tip is even smarter in the summer, when we tend
to sweat more.
7. Repeat after us:Sex and water
Planned Parenthood told me
they get lots of questions about summer sex at the beach/in the pool/in the hot
tub, which made me LOL because the thought of doing anything at a pool this
summer—other than helicopter around my 3-year-old, scream-begging her to
keep her jelly shoes on/not run, while simultaneously reapplying SPF 50 to
my baby every 20 minutes—is a joke. The closest thing I'll be getting to sex
on the beach this summer will be a peach-flavored baby food pouch and a few
day-old Craisins I'm bound to find hiding in my nursing bra.
That said, I remember what it
was like to be young and free, and I suppose some moms who have made it past the
chaos of early childhood may actually be interested in getting wet and wild. So
here's your answer: Whether it's
chlorinated, ocean or lake water, summer sex is best left to dry land (with
lube, of course.) "Water washes away a woman's natural lubricant, so you could
experience more chafing and discomfort than normal," explains Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior
Director of Medical Services for Planned
Parenthood Federation of America. "If
you're using a condom, less lubrication means it's also more likely that the
condom could rip or tear."
Add to that the fact that natural water, like that
found in lakes and oceans, contain bacteria which could put you at risk for
vaginal infections, and pool chemicals can disrupt your body's natural pH balance
and cause a yeast infection. Just a few more reasons why Lisa Zienin, 42, won't be joining the Deep End Club this summer. As the mom of four boys and the brains behind @SarcasticMommy4 puts it, "Going to the beach pre-kids meant wearing a sexy swimsuit & finding a secluded spot. After kids, it means wearing whatever still fits you and making sure the bathrooms are nearby."
"In the summer, most of us think
about working our abs or legs or arms, but don't forget about strengthening
that pelvic floor with some Kegels,"
says Erin Whitehead, co-founder FitBottomedMamas.com.
"You can't exactly see results when you do Kegels regularly, but believe
me, you can feel the difference. Do them daily for a stronger core—and, you
know, the ability to jump rope with a full bladder. If you're a mom, you know
what I talking about."
*I implore you, do not Google "vagina synonyms." Nothing good can come